As with all good habits, it is extremely important to start early eye examinations for children. Studies show that 5-10% of pre-schoolers and 25% of school aged children have at least a vision problem. Early identification of a child’s vision problem is crucial because children are more responsive to treatment when the problem is detected early. Parents usually wonder whether their pre-schoolers have vision problems or when to schedule a first eye examination for them. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), infants should have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age. Children should have additional eye exams at 3yrs and just before they get to first grade at about age 5 or 6.
For school aged children, the ADA recommends an EYE EXAM EVERY TWO YEARS if no vision correction is required. Children who need eyeglasses or contact lenses should be examined annually or as recommended by their Optometrist or Ophthalmologist.
Your child’s vision is a prerequisite to his/her success in school. There are basic skills related to good eye sight and learning which a child should have, to perform effectively. They include near vision, distant vision, binocular (both eyes) coordination, eye movement skills, peripheral awareness and hand-eye coordination. Nowadays, computers and other digital devices are used more extensively by kids, who start at a very early age. The illuminated screens of these modern devices tend to be more visually demanding than books and other printed text. The increase in use of digital devices (and task performance at near distances e.g. reading) by children has led to a steady increase in myopia. For these reasons, it is mandatory for all children entering school for the first time to go through an eye examination.
Selecting the best eye doctor before scheduling an appointment is very important. When scheduling an eye exam for your child, choose a time when he or she is usually alert and happy. Specifics of how eye exams are conducted are dependent on the child’s age. Generally the exam will include a case history, vision testing, determination of whether eyeglasses are needed, testing of eye alignment, an eye health evaluation and prescription of eyewear if need be. The case history would usually include details about your child’s birth. Information such as your child’s birth weight, the occurrence or not of complications during pregnancy as well as if the child was born prematurely would be required. Your doctor may also ask other questions concerning your child’s medical history. Details of current medication, past and present allergies may also be requested. If your child has failed a vision screening at school or during a visit to his/her paediatrician, it is worth mentioning. Be sure to give exhaustive answers to questions concerning your child’s visual health.
Appropriate vision testing at an early age is vital to ensure your child has the visual skills required to perform well in school. A child who is unable to see print or view a blackboard can become easily frustrated, leading to poor academic performance. Some vision problems, such as lazy eye, are best treated if they are detected and corrected while the child’s visual system is still developing. A lack of quality eye care can leave your children unable to reach their full potentials!